People and Places - September 2011

Brown is winner of award

Nick Brown, owner of Brown’s Lawn Service in Shakopee, is the winner of the 2011 Judd Jacobson Memorial Award. The award will be presented Oct. 5 at a ceremony at Courage Center in Golden Valley.

Brown is an enterprising 18-year-old who has been mowing lawns since age 12. That wouldn’t be unusual except that Brown has cerebral palsy and speech challenges. He uses a power wheelchair to get around. But this enterprising young man and his friend Don Valiant designed a non-motorized reel-type mower which attached to the front of Brown’s wheelchair. That got the lawn care business rolling and it has been a growing ever since then. A few years after the business began Brown moved to a power mower. Now he uses an older model riding mower.

Brown has contracts to mow four lawns including the Shakopee Knights of Columbus and Church of St. Mary. Most of his clients are within wheelchair distance of his home. Brown plans to use his award money to purchase a new Toro riding mower, twin bagger and drop-end trailer. “I am overjoyed to learn of this wonderful news,” Brown said upon learning of the award. “I am so thankful to the Jacobson committee who just made my dream come true.”

“The new mower will give me more independence, I’ll be able to start it myself and, because it’s new, it will run more efficiently and allow me to increase the number of lawns I can mow.”

“Nick exhibits the entrepreneurial spirit exemplified by Judd,” said Barbara Jacobson, member of the award committee and president of Flying Wheels Travel, one of the businesses started by her late husband Judd. “We hope this award will help him expand his business.” All is not work for Brown. Like other teens he does like to play. He is one of the original power wheelchair soccer players for the Courage Center Blizzards. The team will demonstrate their sport at the award ceremony.

The Judd Jacobson Award has been given since1992, to a person with a physical disability or a sensory impairment. The winner receives $5,000 to advance his or her business endeavor. Jacobson was a business leader who became a quadriplegic due to a diving accident. The award was set up in his honor by his lifelong friend Daniel J. Gainey. For information on the award banquet, contact Christiana Czarnowski at 763-520-0543 or christiana.czarnowski@CourageCenter.org

 

 

UCare opens office in Eau Claire

UCare opened a new regional sales office Aug. 31 in the Keystone Business Center in Eau Claire. The site will serve as the administrative center for UCare’s growing, Wisconsin-based membership in the health plan’s UCare for Seniors Medicare plan which is available in 26 western Wisconsin counties.

UCare’s new sales office is located in Suite 500 of the Keystone Business Center, 3410 Oakwood Mall Dr., in Eau Claire. The location is adjacent to U.S. Highway 53, and just north of Interstate 94. The 1,200-square-foot office features work and conference room spaces, and ample free parking.

The Eau Claire site will be the headquarters for Marti Andro, Manager, Wisconsin Medicare Sales, and her team of Wisconsin sales representatives: Ellen Anderson, of La Crosse; Marla Valentino-Wiste, of Hudson; and Nicolle Olness, of Superior. Administrative support is provided by Kristin Robert, of Eau Claire.

“This new office marks our official presence in western Wisconsin and demonstrates our long-range plans for growing membership in this region,” said Nancy Feldman, President and CEO, UCare. “Eau Claire is a great place from which we will serve the 7,000 Wisconsin members currently enrolled in our UCare for Seniors Medicare plan, and build our Wisconsin presence and membership in the future.”

“We’re very excited to be here and work much more closely with our members, providers, and county representatives from this great location,” said Andro. “As a nonprofit health plan, UCare employees do their best to serve our members. Our Eau Claire team is honored to represent UCare in our 26-county Wisconsin services area, and strengthen our presence in the state.”

The Aug. 31 grand opening was organized by the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce, of which UCare is a member. UCare’s CEO Feldman; Ghita Worcester, Senior Vice President, Public Affairs and Marketing; Brian Eck, Sales Director; UCare for Seniors members; and representatives from area health care, provider, advocacy, and business groups were scheduled to attend the event. UCare is also a member of the Chippewa Falls Area Chamber of Commerce which will be represented

UCare first expanded its UCare for Seniors Medicare plan to western Wisconsin in late 2007; enrollments were effective in January of 2008. Eligible Medicare recipients can choose from four levels of UCare for Seniors coverage— Classic, Value, Value Plus, and Standard D. A Group UCare for Seniors plan also is available to organizations with retirees.

UCare  is an independent, nonprofit health plan providing health care and administrative services to more than 230,000 members. UCare partners with health care providers, counties, community organizations, and other member-directed groups to create and deliver innovative health coverage products for Medicare-eligible individuals throughout Minnesota and in western Wisconsin; individuals and families enrolled in income-based Minnesota Health Care Programs, such as MinnesotaCare and Prepaid Medical Assistance Program; adults with disabilities and Medicare beneficiaries with chronic health conditions; and Minnesotans dually eligible for Medical Assistance and Medicare.

 

 

Home Depot ramps up veterans’ donations

Through its Community Impact Grants Program, The Home Depot Foundation has awarded $5,000 to the Metropolitan Center for Independent Living (MCIL). The donation will be used to build ramps for veterans with disabilities.

“MCIL is very grateful for the support and generous contribution from The Home Depot Foundation for our Veterans Building Ramps for Veterans Program. We welcome their partnership as we continue our efforts to provide meaningful supports and assistance to people with disabilities.

This grant will enable veterans to lead more in dependent and self directed lives,” said David Hancox, Executive Director, MCIL. The Home Depot Foundation’s Community Impact Grants Program supports the work that local nonprofit organizations, public schools and other community organizations are doing to improve the physical health of their neighborhoods.

“We are delighted to support local volunteer projects aimed at ensuring that every U.S. veteran has a safe and accessible home,” said Kelly Caffarelli, president, The Home Depot Foundation. The Metropolitan Center for Independent Living deserves enormous credit for  the work it is doing, and we are glad to be part of their efforts.”

MCIL is one of eight Centers for Independent Living in Minnesota and one of more than 500 nationally that work with people with disabilities.